He returned, 

after many years, 

to sit under the oak tree 

near the house 

where he once dwelled


and smiled 


when he realized


he was rooted there as well.

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My family came to visit me in the bookstore…where I was working the other night

I greeted them as they came through the door… with a smile broad and bright…


And as they gathered round me…I paused to take a look

and think about how a person’s story…is somewhat like a book. 


Each day we add a new chapter, new pages, new paragraphs…new lines

and I was glad on this day…to add their pages into mine.


When they departed…when the door closed…with their visit at an end

my mind wandered to other memories…other pages we have penned.


For isn’t that the beauty of a family…the host of memories we’ve made…

memories we look back on…memories that never fade…


And isn’t that the beauty of a good book…you’re excited to read ahead

but you can stop anytime you want and return to pages you’ve already read.


And you realize this book you’re writing is about much more than just yourself…

and you hope when your final chapter’s written and your book is laid upon the shelf…


when others choose to read it…in a different time…a different place


the memories within its pages…will bring a smile to their face..

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Time went by so quickly…

So many summer suns and winter snows.

They were remembering all their family times together…

but it was time for him to go.


This is the way it’s meant to be…

one of life’s classic paradigms…

The chid grows up and moves away…

it's never easy when it’s time…


Because they know the world can be filled with darkness

his parents were nervous…as was he…

But they also knew that he was ready

it was time to set him free…


“You needn’t be afraid”, they said,

as tears fell from their eyes

and they whispered as they hugged him..

“It is your time to fly…”


“For no matter where you go”, they said,

“No matter where you roam.”

“Follow the light that’s in your heart

and it will always lead you home…”


“You see our heart glows with that same light.”

“You will find it in the stars…”

“If you follow it when you need to

your light will lead you back to ours.”


And he walked with a little more confidence

the moment he was gone…

knowing even when his life is darkest…


their light is always on.

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I remember the aroma of Grandma’s cookies…in the oven baking

and in the jar upon the counter…ready for the taking.


For any occasion or no occasion…I’m not exaggerating

when I walked into her house…she had those cookies waiting.


When Grandma became sick…when she couldn’t bake cookies anymore

one day on my way to visit…I stopped by the cookie store.


I found the most beautiful cookies sitting near the windowpane…

smiling sunflower cookies…wrapped in cellophane.


I brought two of them to Grandma…she said, “Oh honey, what a treat.”

“I”ll cherish them forever…’cause they’re much to beautiful to eat.”


I didn’t think much about them till she was gone and there on her windowpane

I happened on two sunflower cookies…wrapped in cellophane.


“She wasn’t kidding.” I whispered to myself as I wipe away a tear

thinking of all the cookies she’d baked…all those cookies…all those years.


I laid one in her coffin…so when she got to heaven she would see

her cookie wrapped in cellophane and she would think of me.


And I kept the other cookie…wrapped in cellophane as it were…


so every time I look at it…I will think of her.

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Sometimes I wonder why we love to take pictures and put them into frames…

Perhaps it’s to capture a moment after which we will never be the same.


We all grow a little every day with new experiences adding to our repertoire…

which continuously change the people we were…into the people who we are…


And so to it is with family…each time we enter through our door

we are all a little different than we were the time before.


We are all like nimble dancers…in a beautiful ballet

continuously transforming…in many quiet…subtle ways.


And so times we get together are happily arranged

to visit with each other…to see how much we all have changed…


Yet we know in spite of all the changes….those we can and cannot see

we all share something permanent…we are a family.


Perhaps that’s why we love to take pictures…and put them into frames…


Not to remind us how much we change….but how much we stay the same.

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It’s a little quieter than yesterday as the sun is rising and a new day dawns…

The family vacation is over…the cabin is empty…everyone’s gone.


So Deborah and I decide to take a little walk…together hand in hand

thinking about our vacation and trying to understand…


about one of the wonderful components of love…how easily it abounds!

for even after everyone’s gone…we feel it all around.


We can still see the children playing…see them running up and down the stairs…

We can see the family seated around the table…we can hear their laughter in the air.


We can see all the things we did together…on a loop inside our heads

In some ways it’s like they never left…but are here with us instead…


Yes, another wonderful component of love…is how it reaches out so far…

and keeps you connected to a person…no matter where they are.


So as Deborah and I walk together

a little saddened at how fast the time has flown…

we know when we’re surrounded by so much love…

we will never be alone….


And I wonder if that’s why we hold onto one another 

and walk a little slower as we get older…

Because we savor the walk a little more…


knowing all the love that’s on our shoulders. 

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It’s true when you retire your life slows down a bit…you walk where you once use to run.

Your family is raised…your job is complete…you’re not racing to get everything done.


You find you follow a different routine…without schedules, agendas or lists…

and those things you don’t want to do anymore…you find them quite easy to resist….


Then you go on a family vacation…and you look at your family who…

you suddenly come to the realize…is so very much younger than you.


But you’re determined to keep up with these young whippersnappers

to show them at 65…you’re still young…

so you feed a huge Bison right from your hand

and feel the slime of a Watusi’s tongue.


And you slide down a rock, yes a rock! on your butt…into water that is ever so cold

and you slide down again and again and again…to show yourself you’re not getting old.


And you jump from a boat and swim in a lake…and, with the young ones, you frolic and float

and you even ride together holding your wife…on a tube that’s attached to a boat…


You do this and everything else they request…as a father and a granddad….

keeping up with the young ones as best as you can

while using muscles you forgot that you had…


And though your bones are making noises you hadn’t heard before

and just about every part of you is sore…

when you’re grandchildren ask you to throw the frisbee with them…

you agree quickly…urging your body to do more….


Because there are only so many moments on any vacation…

so many moments you don’t want to miss…

so you smile and you wince as you toss that frisbee around….

knowing life doesn’t get any better than this.


Knowing once these moments are gone you won’t get them back…

So you slide and you feel the slime of a tongue

And you jump in a lake and play Frisbee with your grandchildren…


knowing it’s moment’s like these that are keeping you young.

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Have you ever noticed when you get together with friends and family

no matter where you’re at…

many conversations begin with ‘Do you remember this?’

or start out ‘Do you remember that?’


One person says do you remember the time…

as a smile crosses his or her face…

and you find yourself transported with them

back to that same time and same place.


How you all have your own version of what happened…

your own chronology….

for even though you all saw the same thing

you all remember it a little differently.


And each of you shares what you saw…how you felt

the way you perceived it to be…

and though you think you saw it correctly

others, who were there, disagree.


And you laugh as you remember that moment

for you are happily aware

how lucky you all are to have that particular moment

a particular moment you all can share…


And you think as you listen to more ‘Do You Remembers…

watching the smiles as people recap…

how lucky you are to have family and friends


whose ‘Do you remembers’ all overlap.

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I was brought up to believe in heaven. 

It’s where you go after you die.

It’s a place of beauty high in the clouds

where everyone’s happy and angels fly…


But as I’ve grown older I’ve come to believe

while life is not filled with mirth

If we look for them we will discover

little pieces of heaven right hear on Earth.


You are surrounded by wondrous beauty

and you suddenly become aware

there is music floating on the wind

and laughter in the air.


You look around and see your family and friends

And you smile as you say…

I think I know what heaven is like

right hear…on Earth…today.


It’s like the Universe has chosen you

has opened up a door…

and once you discover one piece of heaven

you start to look for more.


And you find them, yes you find them!

on a mountain, in a lake, by the side of a babbling brook…

In fact you start to find them…everywhere you look.


And you realize despite what you’ve been taught

despite what you thought was true…

that heaven is not just somewhere you go when you die

it’s a place inside of you.


A place that allows you to discover in each moment

an awakening…a rebirth

and find in your family…

Sliding down a 60 foot rock…

or floating together in a lake

or watching a sunset on a mountaintop…


a little piece of heaven right here on Earth.

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